For Immediate Release                                                              Contact: Julia Pelosi




Benefit Planned for November 25 at Embassy of Poland


WASHINGTON, D.C., (Oct. 28) – Professor Hashem Aghajari, the jailed Islamic reformist whose arrest, trial, and death sentence sparked massive waves of student protest across Iran, and Abbas AmirEntezam, the longest serving prisoner of conscience in Iran, will be jointly honored by the Foundation for Moral Courage at a ceremony and buffet dinner at 6 p.m., Tuesday, November 25, 2003 at the Embassy of Poland in Washington, D.C.  Foundation board chairman John Lange will present the 4th annual Jan Karski Award for Moral Courage to Mr. Aghajari and Mr. AmirEntezam in absentia.  The Foundation, a non-political organization, emphasizes that both men will be honored for their human rights agendas, not on their political orientations.


A second honor, the Jan Karski Film Award, will be presented the same evening to a new documentary film that highlights an act or acts of moral courage.


Among the chair persons for the annual benefit are Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and U.S. Representative John Lewis.  Curt Goering of Amnesty International and Prof. Azar Nafisi of Johns Hopkins University will be among the evening’s featured speakers. Accepting the award on behalf of Mr. Aghajari will be Prof. Abdul Karim Soroush of Harvard University and, for Mr. AmirEntezam, the award will be accepted on his behalf by his daughter, Elham AmirEntezam.



            Foundation president Sy Rotter said, “The Foundation for Moral Courage recognizes Prof. Hashem Aghajari for his outspoken calls for a progressive Islam, civil rights for non-Muslims, and equal rights for women, and Mr. Abbas AmirEntezam for his long-standing insistence upon a secular government and political rights for all Iranians. We are honored to extend this year's Karski Award for Moral Courage to them and, by reflection, to the thousands of other imprisoned Iranians whose similar calls for human rights will one day become accepted as the law of their land.  We are particularly heartened to know that the eyes of the world are now turned to Iran’s political prisoners following Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi’s call “for their immediate, unconditional release."

Manuel Schiffler, Iran Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA, said that he
welcomed the Foundation’s decision to honor Abbas AmirEntezam and Professor Hashem 
Aghajari” noting that “although they reflect different ideological and political 
affiliations they, along with many thousands of other prisoners of conscience have 
risked their lives by speaking out against the abuse of power in Iran."


Jan Karski, who died in 2000 at the age of 86, was a Polish diplomat during World War II who witnessed the Holocaust first-hand and tried to stop it by visiting Roosevelt and Churchill to alert them to Germany’s plans to destroy Europe’s Jewish population. 


The Foundation for Moral Courage is a non-profit educational foundation established in 1992 to promote awareness of the importance of acts of moral courage .